UNIX: Making Computers Easier To Use — AT&T Archives film from 1982, Bell Laboratories

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The Unix System: Making Computers Easier to Use – 1982

This 23-minute film about UNIX was designed for students with an interest in engineering, math, computer science or other sciences. The film was made available to the public in December 1982. It covers different ways that UNIX could be employed practically in a computing environment. Another film about UNIX released at the same time, “The UNIX System: Making Computers More Productive,” was aimed at computer science majors and corporate trainees, and presented a more detailed discussion of the UNIX system and its various applications.

Hosted by Victor Vyssotsky in a Carl-Sagan-esque turtleneck sweater, this film includes Dennis Ritchie, one of UNIX’s inventors, along with Bell Labs staffers and programmers Brian Kernighan, Catherine Ann Brooks, Lorinda Cherry, Alfred Aho, Nina Macdonald, and John Mashey.

Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson started work on what would become UNIX originally in 1969. They developed it to run on a DEC PDP-7 to begin with; it would eventually be ported to other computers. By 1976, UNIX was used in more than 30 Bell Labs groups, and there were UNIX installations at over 80 universities.

Footage Courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center, Warren, NJ


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25 Comments
  1. Zé Maria Gonçalves Pereira says

    I have to say that watching this video of you’re high is the quintessential being high experience.

  2. Priyadharshini D says

    Grammarly v1.0?

  3. alex viau says

    That movie is better than a holywood blockbuster.

  4. Olga Voronova says

    As if it all was just a couple of years ago.

  5. LMacNeill says

    2:20 — man, I do not miss the time when an 8-minute phone call would cost nearly an hour's wages. LOL. Seriously, though — excellent video. This was literally history in the making. Beautiful that it's been preserved for us to watch nearly 4 decades later.

  6. jub8891 says

    the narrator looks like he is perpetually about to break out into laughter but never does..

  7. All The Mikeys Are Taken says

    Fuuuuuick AT&T

  8. Paul Hetherington says

    UNIX' is Hawaiian, only dumbass haules. We don't sell, it for, your use.

  9. МАГИЯ РЕТРО says

    )

  10. rk 4391 says

    Good thing Stallman, GNU, MINIX, Linus Torvalds, the Linux kernel, Bruce Perens, Christine Peterson, and Eric S. Raymond came along to free Ken Thompson's and Dennis Ritchie's UNIX and C from the confines of AT&T. Nothing would be the same without any of them. AT&T was just… there. And tried to contain it.

  11. Roger Scott Cathey says

    I had a friend who acquired a couple of Sun computers, and he had them linked and three or four monitors across a wall and in the front of his room. He had a ping pong graphic screen saver bouncing from one monitor to the next and the next monitors, back and forth. He used only Unix. Ran everything, had virtual systems, real genius. He made one of the most fascinating fractals I've ever seen. An ever widening circle where zooming down you eventually reach an infinity symbol, circles, more infinity loops, and everything very smooth, no sharp angled branches as are so typical. Utterly unique. He worked collaboratively with ILM, was at Los Alamos at one time. Eventually devoted himself full time to debunking AA.

  12. ParochialNimrod says

    I come to this video every time I deal with something terrible at work. Reminds me how it was when it all started, and how far we've strayed from your path almighty bell gods.

  13. ZX Spectrum 128K says

    Itu t v44 +ipr=921600?

  14. Linkin Park says

    Stepping stone to NLP, especially the part of the film. Great work, the world is forever indebted to these guys.

  15. andy low says

    this great idea of communicating apps is buried when g.u.i and commercial applications came.rise from ashes! great ideas should not die.

  16. Elliot Bridgewater says

    "The Unix System: Making Computers Easier to Use – 1982"For a few years, yes, until UI-based OSs/shells came out. Then they were the way forward for almost all end users to this day.

  17. 2thinkcritically says

    I absolutely love the way Lorinda Cherry casually drinks from her cup."Oh what, this computer working out this incredibly long number and then saying it in English to you, you call this amazing? I call it Tuesday"

  18. David Moylan says

    The presenter looks like a tech version of Hugh Hefner.

  19. Weghweh Hwewehwhe says

    5:30 Brian epicness ensues!

  20. Drifter says

    I think Nina Macdonald was HOT!

  21. Ric Sanches says

    Cant beleive they were this advanced in 80s

  22. Michael Small says

    "This documentation is usually written by the developers. After all, they know the most about the equipment. But they weren't necessarily trained in how to write well…" I feel targeted.

  23. ling ling says

    thanks for suggesting this to me lmaoooo

  24. treeman Micool Jacksonn says

    One of the greatest inventions of the 20th century

  25. Clayton Voges says

    11:09 Since when was home inside `/usr`. This feels so backwards

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